Over the last decade, remarkable progress has been made in understanding the key role of the immune system (immunology) in controlling and killing cancer. Among the key milestones was the recognition that there are signals responsible for activating the immune system to elicit an anti-tumor response. These signals are often disrupted in cancer by the so-called “checkpoints”. Such observation has led to the development of several agents referred to as “checkpoint inhibitors” that are currently revolutionizing the way malignant tumors are treated. They hold a huge potential of changing the landscape of cancer management for many years to come.
The Southern French Region gathers some of the best research institutes, hospitals and universities in Europe. With a historical focus on oncology, infectious diseases and immunology, the Southern Region of France and Marseille Metropole came up with a project: what if they could gather in a cluster on the same idyllic site, some of the best institutes, hospitals and companies on immunology and oncology and have them work together for the sake of thousand of patients and life science innovation ?
In 2014, the Metropole of Marseille with the support of the South of France Region have accomplished this objective by bringing together 4 of the best research centers, 6 technological innovation centers, 4 hospitals, the life science cluster Eurobiomed, one industrial platform, more than 600 academic researchers and 47 private companies to create one of the world leader cluster in immunology.
From that collaborative network emerged a series of cutting edges companies such as Innate Pharma, Haliodx, Imchek Therapeutics and other progressively joined Marseille Immunopole such as Balmes Transplantation, Genepred, Immunotech Beckman Coulter, Modul Bio or Coral Biom.
The strong link between fundamental research and industrial actors led to the discovery of three first-in class check point inhibitors in clinical trials and a portfolio of preclinical antibodies.
A few Founders of MI: Emilie Royère CEO of Eurobiomed, Bernard Malissen President of the CIPHE, Eric Vivier President of the CIML, Hervé Brailly from Innate Pharma, Vincent Fert from HaliodX, Catherine Farnerier and Delphine Badinant Public Hospitals of Marseille, Sanofi France, Christian Chabannon INSERM, Jean-Paul Borg Paoli-Calmette Institute, CNRS, Fréderic Vely from Aix-Marseille University, Jacques Pfister from the CCI Marseille etc.
Immunology in Marseille
Targeting infections such as solid tumors, lymphoma myeloma, leukemia, gynecological cancers, head and neck cancers, Innate Pharma has a very diversified pipeline with preclinical trials as well as Phase 2 molecules and a unique technological platform. One of its most famous monoclonal antibodies are Lirilumab, Monalizumab or the IPH4102 that was recently granted orphan drug status in the European Union and in the United States for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.
Innate has been working with couple of pharmaceutical companies and especially with AstraZeneca with whom they signed a $1,7 Billion partnership last year. This relationship led them to take Mondher Mahjoubi, former Oncology Strategic Director at AstraZeneca, as the CEO of Innate Pharma.
Astra Zeneca and Immunology
AstraZeneca is yet one of the leading pioneer in immuno-oncology innovations in Europe and is about to become one of the main international actors in immunology.
Although we are still at the very beginning of immunology discoveries, Marseille Immunopole, in its ambition to foster innovation and support rising start-ups, takes up the challenge and confirms the excellency of Southern France Life Science ecosystem.
The future of Immunology is in Provence!
From Camille SUMNER, Project Manager of the Life Science Cluser EUROBIOMED
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